|NBA Superstar, Kobe Bryant, in one of his many dunks during the Smart Ultimate All-Star Weekend Games at the Araneta Coliseum, Saturday, July 23. The Smart/NBA all-stars defeated the PBA all-stars 131-105. Photo by Diana Moraleda for abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Visiting NBA stars dominated a PBA selection, 131-105, dazzling the locals stars with impressive plays and high-leaping abilities to the delight of spectators at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
Washington Wizards center Javalee McGee led the NBA selection with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocks.
LA Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who was the visiting team’s playing-coach, thanked all those who came to watch the exhibition game.
“It's an honor to be here. Thanks for coming out. It's gonna be fun, hope you guys enjoy the show,” he said.
Petron Blaze’s Arwind Santos sparked the locals’ offense that put the PBA selection ahead, 14-12, over the NBA stars midway through the first quarter.
NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City Thunder, however, found his mark and hit shot after shot from beyond the three-point area.
A series of plays by the NBA selection led to a 30-26 first quarter lead over the PBA All-Star team.
The NBA superstars later took turns showing off aerial tricks, from two-handed back dunks to alley-oops.
At one point, Petron Blaze’s Alex Cabagnot was seen grinning with admiration after Chicago Bulls' reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose completed an alley-oop off a pass from Bryant.
The next two quarters saw the visitors’ lead balloon to 29 points, 107-78.
The locals refused to back down as Sol Mercado of Meralco and Gary David of Powerade tried to rally their teammates in the final period.
The NBA stars, however, were simply unstoppable. They maintained their double-digit lead up to the final seconds of the game.
Durant finished with 22 points while Bryant scored 12.
“It's an honor to be over here... we're happy to be over here, the fans are great,” said Rose.
Santos top scored for the PBA selection with 25 points.
The NBA superstars will again play on Sunday against Smart-Gilas Pilipinas.
Other highlights include a 3-point shootout competition that saw NBA partners Chris Paul and James Harden win over PBA's LA Tenorio and Larry Fonacier.
Among the VIPs who attended the game were business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan and former President Joseph Estrada.
Smart Araneta Coliseum
Before the game, Jorge Araneta, CEO of the Araneta Group, announced the firm's partnership with Pangilinan's Smart Communications.
The alliance resulted in a change in Araneta Coliseum's name. “From today, Araneta Coliseum is no more, it is now Smart Araneta Coliseum,” said Araneta.
“It's not only an alliance but a fusion of ideas to bring more sports, entertainment and news developments to you,” he told the crowd.